Hearings - Testimony
 
Full Committee Hearing
An Informational Hearing on Pending Nominations
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
 
Howard Thrailkill
Nominated to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a great privilege for me to appear before you and the distinguished members of this committee, as you consider my nomination for the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors. In that regard, I also want to express my gratitude to Senator Richard Shelby, Senator Jeff Sessions and Congressman Bud Cramer who have encouraged me to come before you today. Finally, I must also acknowledge my wife, Donna Thrailkill, who offers her support by her presence at these proceedings.

 

Mr. Chairman, I deeply respect the heightened importance of this confirmation hearing, the first to consider seating a restructured Board of Directors under broad amendments to the TVA Act, as recently enacted by Congress. It is also the first following passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, after so many years of debate. These are fundamental changes in direction for TVA and the nation. Therefore, I am mindful of the formidable obligation and responsibility I must shoulder, if you choose to confirm my nomination. If you do, you can rely upon my applying the full measure of my ability, background and experience to this endeavor.

In my view, Congress has given TVA an historic opportunity to renew and to transform itself. You have pointed the way to a new horizon. The newly established Board will now bear the responsibility for implementation of your vision, and you should hold it accountable for doing so.

Having met individually with each of the other current nominees and the two incumbent Board members, I commend them to you and look forward to serving with them. Upon your confirmation, I am convinced this Board has the breadth of knowledge and experience to move aggressively and begin meeting your expectations. With their business acumen and maturity, I am confident they will move in a financially and socially responsible fashion as well.

Working together, I believe this Board can guide TVA to achievement of new standards of excellence in the delivery of clean, low-cost, reliable electric power to its customers. TVA should accept nothing less than becoming “best of class’ in this nation.

As TVA crafts its future along the path you have charted, it is clear to me that the innovative application of technology will be critical to TVA’s success. As a practical matter, no other approach will power continued economic development in the Tennessee Valley, while meeting ever tighter environmental standards for air and water quality. Technology is also fundamental to TVA’s delivering electric service to its customers at lowest cost and highest reliability. There are simply no practical alternatives that don’t introduce downside consequences that are unacceptable in my view.

In this environment, I believe my background as an engineer, technologist and business executive could provide important balance and perspective that will augment the backgrounds of other Board members. Throughout my career in private enterprise, organizations I have headed were built around large, complex engineering teams and programs not unlike those TVA must undertake to succeed. There is little doubt that the new Board will be called upon to endorse many complex, costly programs whose success hinges upon correct assessment of technical and financial alternatives. For more than three decades, that has been the nature of my work, and I offer that experience and expertise to this effort without reservation.

In closing I would like to affirm my love for the Tennessee Valley and the natural beauty of its rivers, lakes, hills and valleys. Even though we moved to Alabama from a home near the Columbia River basin in Oregon, my wife and I have found the river basin managed by TVA to be no less stunning and fragile. On many occasions while traveling around the area, I have pulled over and marveled at the incredible vistas we have in our valley. If confirmed, I pledge my strong support for TVA’s continued program of environmental stewardship and responsible management of the Tennessee River system and resources.

Mr. Chairman, I am energized by the prospect of service as a member TVA’s Board of Directors during this critical period when energy service providers are moving in new directions. I firmly believe that the new TVA can be and will be worthy of its heritage.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

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